Tuesday, February 26, 2013

RACE REPORT: Hyannis Marathon

After finishing the Colchester Half Marathon on Saturday, I did the typical - food, massage, more food, hung out with friends, and headed straight home to recover (contrast shower and a nap).  When I woke, I had an email from BAEvents...

"We are on."

There were other words in there too, but they don't seem to be coming to mind.  That's all I needed to read.  In a matter of 19 hours, I'd be running my second Goofy Challenge of the year.  I made my dinner, packed my bags, and was out the door by 5:00pm.  I arrived in Cape Cod a little before 8:30pm, stretched, ate my dinner, and went to bed early.

What was going to happen tomorrow?!  I had trained for a marathon hoping to go sub-3:30, but certainly not for doing so after having run a half marathon.  My gut told me that it was possible, but that it wasn't going to be easy.  My mind on the other hand was not so easily persuaded and raced with questions.

Can I still hit my goal?!
Will I blow up midway?!
Did Saturdays run take a chunk out of my energy??
How will the weather affect my run?!
Did I give up my marathon PR just for a birthday run?!
Should I change my pacing??
Will 7 GUs be enough?!  

Long story short, I couldn't be more ecstatic about how well this race went!


The weather decided to meet us half way.  As I arrived in Hyannis-Port Sunday morning, it was misting with plenty of puddles in the road.  Since it was wet outdoors, the expo was packed with people trying to stay dry.  I shuffled my way to the registration table, saw that out of 20 boxes of registration packets, only two were for the marathon, and realized that I obviously chose the more popular race.  Haha.  I picked up my packet (literally just the bib and a Ninety Nine coupon), my shirt, and went back to the car. 

Back at the car, I got dressed.  The race day forecast was for high 30s/low 40s, windy, and rain.   After talking with the staff at Fleet Feet, I opted to go with a singlet instead of the long-sleeve shirt and my Ronhill water-resistant wind breaker instead of buying a real waterproof jacket.  Waterproof would have been nice in the rain, but given the temperatures, they told me I'd overheat very quickly.  In the end, I'm glad I took their advice and I might go without the singlet next time. 

I stopped at the expo one last time to use the bathroom.  Thank God I'm a male (sorry girls!).  The women's restroom line went down the hall, back up the hall, and around the corner into the conference room.  The guy's line had 5 people.  Cha-Ching!

With 5 minutes 'till race start, I took off my garbage bag and walked out into the rain.  The start line had signs on the left hand side showing pace times.  Due to the line being packed already, I squeezed in a bit ahead of the 8-minute mile sign.  All the above questions came screaming back to my head and I simply pushed them aside.  I can't worry about it now.  Stick to the plan and roll with the punches.

Off we go!  
2013 Goofy No.2

Here was my plan...
My PR is 4:07.  My goal was a sub-3:30 or 8:00 pace.  I had no idea how Saturday would affect me.  I felt fresh enough race morning, so if anything, the latter half of the race as opposed to the first was going to suffer due to that decision.  If I was going to make goal, I needed to give myself the best chance of being able to hold that 8:00 pace.  If I went out too fast, I'll be more and more likely to blow up.  Given all that, I decided to stick to my previous plan: 8:00 pace through mile 20 with constant nutrition and then re-evaluate.  If I blew up early, then so be it; I paid that price.

The Race
Thankfully, Saturdays run proved that I could hold back my pace if I really wanted to.  Right out of the gate at Hyannis, I did the very same thing.  I ran around some people and let others pass.  About half a mile in, most people around me had shuffled around enough to be reorganized in the correct pacing order.  Then around what must have been mile one I hear "Hey, it's your birthday!" immediately followed by "Happy Birthday to you!  Happy Birthday to you!..."  Yup!  I had two random guys sing me happy birthday. 

Day Maker #1

The first downside of Hyannis is the mile markers.  They are small orange cones with numbers on them.  I didn't see one until mile 5.  As you can guess, that leaves me completely guessing what my pace was.  I was 2 minutes ahead of schedule. 

I kept telling myself "Slow down Kurt!," but I missed the mile 6 marker too, so in the end I gave up attempting to stick to 8:00 pace as much as I did on Saturday and opted to simply keep the pace I was at - roughly estimated at 7:40 in my head - until I could find the mile markers more consistently. 

At mile 8, I was again at 7:40 pace.  I also lost the birthday hat.  Yes, I wore the cone hat again, but the rain wore it down.  I still felt solid, my breathing was easy, and I was stopping to get a drink of gatorade at every aid station.  If I was going to run a 7:40 pace, I've got plenty of time to make sure I do NOT lack for nutrition! 

Mile 9 and 10 I ran about 7:45 pace and found a guy in a yellow shirt and black tights who hadn't run a road marathon in 4 years.  He was back finally to see what he could do.  We shared stories and he told me "You're well ahead of your pace right now; about 3:17, maybe 3:19 at most."  In my head I figured he was a bit off 'cause that's a 7:30 pace, but appreciated his experience. 

Mile 11 and 12 were about 7:42 pace and became big support miles for those doing the half.  A lot of people looked like the distance was taking it's toll.  Whether out of the goodness of my heart or as a way to mentally escape my own trials, I started encouraging everyone I saw with a white bib!  I also was happy that I still felt fairly good coming up on the half way point.


As we rounded the corner towards the finish line, there were 20-30 people within my sight.  As we passed the finish line and I headed back out on lap number two, there were three.  "Oh, this is gonna' be fun!"  I turned around and joked with the guy behind me who looked pretty good himself...

"I'm warmed up now.  Want to do another lap?!"

I didn't get an official half time, but it was somewhere around 1:41, a 7:43 pace.  That beat yesterdays half!  Awesome, I'm negatively splitting so far.  A part of me wanted to pull ahead and speed it up.  I ALMOST did a few times, but I fell back to "Kurt, you gave up that option by running yesterday.  Stick to the plan!"  So... (*sigh*), I did.

As expected, the second lap was pretty boring.  Just around the first turn, the wind picked up and at some point the rain got heavier.  After awhile I stopped making wide births of the puddles and let my shoes do the work of draining out the water.  All I did was kept to my pace, slowly knocking off runners as I went. 
Side Note: Negative splitting really helps with a mental boost in the back half by allowing you to pass runners that have slowed down. 
Mile 13-15 were a 7:42 pace and the beginning to my countdown.  As per the plan above, I was going to hold my conservative pace through mile 20 as best I could.  That meant that after finishing the first lap, I wasn't counting down another 13 miles, but rather 7.  I honestly think that helped break up the mental challenge a lot!  At 15 miles, I had 5 miles of plan to stick to until I could change the race. 

Around mile 15, I caught up to an Asian runner who wore a black trash bag.  As a note for later, I found it a bit difficult to keep with him at times.  We both ran a very similar pace and I believe worked off one another for the next five miles, but I honestly felt the distance taking a toll on me a bit. 

We passed back and forth as I counted down the miles...  4 more... 3 more... just 2 more... final mile!  And at mile 20 I let him go as I stopped for a pee break.  The mental exercise was over.  I had completed the major task of the day.  I was 20 miles into a marathon and felt good, had not blown up, kept up my nutrition, and was mentally still VERY in the game.  Time to have some fun (the way I much prefer to race!).

Including the bathroom break about 0.1 miles into mile 21, that mile clocked in at 8:01, my slowest mile of the day.  I remember thinking I had let trash bag runner get ahead of me and might not see him again.  Nope!  I cruised passed him less than a mile up the road.  Mile 22 clicked off at 7:00 and mile 23 at 7:03.  I was booking it!  I just kept thinking "This is an Olympic triathlon.  Just dig through 6.2 miles and you'll be done!"


At mile 23 I thought I might have to slow down to avoid a blow up.  In the end, I convinced myself that as long as I made it to mile 25, I could make it through anything in that last mile.  So instead of thinking I had 3 miles to go, I thought of it as 2.  Big help!  Mile 24 was my fastest, 6:49.  I was elated, but at the same time, my legs were started to really scream!  My quads were painful and I knew I was pushing them towards their limit.

Two miles to go!  Mile 25 was 7:09; I was slowing down and the already thin group was getting more and more stretched out.  Then I saw a yellow runner up ahead.  "Could it be my runner buddy from mile 10?!"  That kept me going and I caught up to him.  He had a friend pacing him who was yelling encouragements the entire way and I wasn't able to catch him after the race, but hope he was happy with his performance and time.  As I passed him, I kept thinking "Wow, his prediction is gonna' be pretty close to money today!"

Mile 26 was so painful, clocking in at a 7:24, but the joy that I felt seeing that familiar road with the right turn up ahead that would lead to the expo center was so incredibly welcome!  I didn't even attempt pushing harder.  I kept my pace, passed one more guy, nearly waded through a puddle in the finisher's chute, and looked up to the sky in thanks as I crossed the finish line and looked at the race clock...  3:18:xx.  Not only was that awesome, but it knocked nearly 50 minutes off my PR and meant that I negatively split the the entire weekend - 1:44:xx, 1:41:xx, and 1:37:xx.  Kick A$$!!!

Day Maker #2

My final time was 3:18:17, a 7:34 pace and good enough for 38th place out of 385.  I don't even know how to explain it.  I was surprised, ecstatic, over-joyed, overwhelmed, thankful, blown away, amazed, and so many other things all in one.  I had planned for a somewhat difficult, but not at all impossible sub-3:30 marathon and had ended up running a killer 3:18 after having run a 1:44 half the day before.  I am fucking superman!!  Ok, I know I'm not - I can't fly yet - but I certainly felt like it.

Now comes the worst part of the weekend...

I went inside the expo, got some food (thank you to Dunkin Donuts and Ninety Nine), started getting chills 'cause I was still in my very wet running clothes, and decided I needed to brave the walk to my car before it got any worse.  My left hip had seized up, my quads were still screaming, my shoulders and neck were sore, and my limbs couldn't stop shivering, so I made myself as aerodynamic as possible and hobbled for 20 minutes to my car 0.5 mile away!

That's right, 20 minutes!  In hindsight, I should have just kept running past the finisher medals and straight to my car.  Along the way I got so emotional I started crying because it was so cold and I just wanted to be at my car.  One idiot yelled from across the road "Just walk it off.  Walk it off."  Thankfully, not 30 seconds later, someone pulled their car over and offered me a ride.  I was already at the parking lot, but thanked them and kept going.  Then a minute later, another person stopped in the parking lot and offered me another ride.  I could see my car so I thanked them and kept walking.  Despite the low emotional state I was in at that point in time (which was oddly preceded by such a high peak after finishing the race), I couldn't help but be thankful for such thoughtful people.

Day Maker #3

I got in the car, turned the heat on full blast, stripped right there in the car (go ahead and try to arrest me!), dried off and put dry clothes on.  About 20 minutes later I headed out and drove 2.5 hours home.  What a weekend!

And I spent a good chunk of that ride thinking of one thing... If I can do a 3:18:17 after running a half the day before, I wonder how close I can get to a 3:05:00. 

BQ attempt in the fall?!
Highly likely


Highlights of Hyannis
  • Half vs. Full Registrants.  There were probably 20 boxes of half marathon packets and only 2 for the marathon.  
  • Restrooms.  As usual, the women's line was out the door, down the hall, and into the ballroom.  The guys only had 5 people.  Haha. 
  • Happy Birthday.  Two guys busted into the Happy Birthday song around mile 1.  I loved it!
  • Aid stations.  The stations were exactly as they were described - water and gatorade, nothing else.  Most had two tables/area separated by 10-20 feet.  As an athlete very picky about aid stations, I very much appreciated their setup.
  • Police and volunteers.  Every corner with a light or major intersection was very well staffed.  There were plenty of upset motorists who I would have loved to stick around to see the outcome of the scene they made, but at no point did I feel in danger or possibly off course.  
  • Expo location.  The race rents out the Resort and Conference Center and the race starts/finishes right in front of the building.  After a wet race, I very much was thankful to be able to get in doors.
  • No real hills.  There were some inclines, but no hills to speak of.  Consider that a drawback if you prefer.
  • Two loops.  As bad as it was to be contrastingly bored on the 2nd loop, it helped to know what to expect with every turn.  This time around, the loop course was a bonus in my mind. 


Drawbacks of Hyannis
  • Mile Markers.  They were way too small.  As you can tell, I missed a number of them.  It took another runner to help point them out before I started finding them consistently.  The Colchester Half race was only $15 and had vastly superior signs.
  • Very small marathon field.  Admittedly not many people are crazy enough to run a marathon in February, but if you do, know that the first lap will be filled with people and the second will seem desolate!
  • No Baggage Drop.  After this race, whether you consider it in the context of this year's weather or just February in general, the first thing you should do is dry off and get into fresh clothes. 
    After finishing, there were no mylar wraps, towels, heaters, or even boosted heat inside of the expo, not to mention no baggage drop for people like me who had to park 0.5 mile away.  Unless you were good enough to have someone meeting you with a towel and dry clothes, you were bound to get chills. 


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Questions
1.  Have you ever run back-to-back races?
I never have before, but I did Goofy in January and now Colchester-Hyannis in February.  What ever will I do in March?!

2.  Have you ever been overly surprised at how well your body performs at a race?

3.  What feature do you find key to a good vs. bad race?
If it's a long enough race, aid stations are my pet peeve, but baggage check is now on my list of key features.

4.  When/What is your first/next 2013 race?
The next planned race is a 5k in late March.  It's tri training time!


Dream.  Believe.  Achieve. 

Monday, February 25, 2013

RACE REPORT: Colchester Half Marathon [2013]

Here's the situation:
It's Friday night.  You just got an email stating that the marathon on Sunday that you trained for may be cancelled; they are holding out until Saturday early evening to make the call.  Your back up race - a local Saturday half marathon - is in the mid-morning, 6 hours before the weather call.  What do you do?!

My decision came down to one fact...

It's my birthday weekend and I had my heart set on running SOMETHING!

Therefore, Saturday morning I woke up and decided I was going to run!  I packed my bag, drove half an hour to the local race, paid a whopping $15 for race-day registration, and geared myself up for a mental exercise - sticking to marathon pace.  Why?  'Cause I may very well have a marathon the next day and I was happy enough just enjoying myself on this run.


Overall, the Colchester Half Marathon was awesome.  Here's why.
  • Incredible Race Director.  The race director was so enthusiastic that he ran with us at some points of the race giving high fives, screaming encouragements, and being a complete running geek.  You couldn't help but laugh.  Great atmosphere!!
  • Weather.  It originally was slated to be high 30's and rainy and ended up only being a slight mist.  A slight bit cold for my fingers, but much better than expected.
  • Price.  Can you beat $15 for a half marathon?  It's only $12 if you preregister.
  • Post Race Offerings.  Showers, massage, food.  Did I mention this was only $15?!
  • Food.  The food was awesome and there was PLENTY of it!

But wait!, I needed a way to make it fun.  "It's my birthday, so why not wear a party hat?"  You know, those cone hats with the strap under your chin.  Yup, I wore it!

My goal was to stick to both my nutrition and pacing plans no matter what; 8:00 pace and a GU every 3 miles.  Here's my pacing...

7:54
7:44
8:24
7:37
7:27
7:55
9:28
Did I mention that this race was hilly?
8:09
7:52
7:39
7:41
7:40
8:00
0:41 
The last 0.1 mile

FINISH - 1:44:24
(7:58 pace)

I finished at a 7:58 pace, only 2 seconds per mile faster than I wanted.  I consider that a success!!  And I felt great.  There was a little tightness in my hip flexors, but other than that, my breathing was relaxed and conversational on all but two hills and my legs felt fresh the entire race.  Awesome!!

One thing I did learn though, GU is very solid below 40 degrees.  I had tried buying Clif gels at another bike shop on Friday, but they didn't have any.  Clif are significantly more liquid.  Oh-well.  Next time!

Oh!, and while I got a lot of "Is it really your birthday?" comments during the run, I found one other person with the same birthday (he was running his very first half marathon) and a lady who's birthday was the day before.  That somewhat made my day.  THIS really made my day, but it has nothing to do with running.

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Questions
1.  What would you have done?  Held out for the marathon in order to be fresher for the PR, run the half instead of the full, or gone for broke and run both?

2.  When you don't race for a PR, do you still have goals or are you out just for a fun time?


Dream.  Believe.  Achieve. 

Friday, February 22, 2013

Pearl Izumi EM N2 Road Quick Review

I got the call on Tuesday!

The Pearl Izumi Project Emotion shoes are in.

That literally made me smile when I got out of work.  Tri geek here!!  I headed over to the local Fleet Feet and as I opened the door, I said a little prayer and held my breathe.


As I slipped the shoes on, I recognized the feel of a Pearl Izumi shoe.

Comfort - Check!

Since the entire shoe line is modeled after the Streak II, I had some confidence that the comfort would be the same.  As I stood, I could feel the same open toe box that I love from the Streak II.

Fit - Check!

The sole certainly looked bigger. With a 23/19mm stack height, it was a lot thicker than my Streak IIs; 18/9mm.  I headed out the door to give 'em a run and immediately felt a good deal of cushion.  I could literally feel the sole give under my feet and then expand again in transition and toe off.  Ugh!

Road Feel - Fail!

I admit that all around, the N2 Road look and feel like a great shoe and will probably be a highly rated trainer.  However, this runner will not be running in them. 

Unfortunately, the shop is not carrying the N1 Road shoes and will not have the N1/N2 Trail until April.  I was informed that the N1 has not only a smaller stack height (19/18 compared to 23/19), but also a firmer sole.  The midsole, made of an EVA foam, is measured by what's called the Durometer, or the firmness of the material.  Normal running shoes run between 48 and 63 on the durometer scale (according to the guys at the store).  The N1 & N2 models have a midsole durometer of 55.  I was told that is a very typical reading for neutral training shoes.  My beloved Streak IIs have a reading of 50, which I was told is VERY soft; the actual phrasing was "That is Saucony Kinvara soft."

What this leaves us is the fact that the N1 Road/Tri is 1mm thinner in the forefoot stack height than the N2, which couldn't possible change the overall feel of the shoe's firmness.  The durometer measures of the Streak II and N1/N2 are very close as well, leaving us to assume that the outsole, the portion that you see on the bottom of the shoe, must be much harder in order to create an overall firmer feel.  That along with cutting out 10mm of stack height. 

What to do from here...
  1. Horde some Streak IIs (already ordered one pair and considering another).
  2. The local bike shop will be getting the N1 Tri next month.  I can test those out when they come in.

SIDE NOTE: I pulled up my training logs and did a rough calculation of how many miles my two pairs of Streak IIs have seen.  The first pair has seen over 800 miles while the second is already over 500.

Over 1300 miles on two pairs of shoes!

I had not realized how far I've pushed these shoes.  I simply replace them once I start getting pains in my feet, shins, knees, or such.  Maybe I should replace them more often!  =\

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Questions
1.  Have you ever had a shoe model you love ruined by a redesign or replacement?

2.  How many shoes do you use while training?  Do you rotate?
The only time I truly rotate is when the current pair are wet from a previous run.  Otherwise, I run in the same shoes until they begin to give out on me. 

3.  How many miles do you put on your shoes?  Or, how often do you replace your shoes?
Apparently I put LOTS of miles on them.


Dream.  Believe.  Achieve. 

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Brooks Utopia 2-in-1 Mittens: Are They Waterproof?

With weather like THIS coming for my marathon this weekend, I am in all out search-and-test mode for my racing attire.

  •  Socks & Shoes.  I'm already used to wet socks and shoes.  They warm up after a mile or two.  No worries there.
  • Pants or Shorts?  I'm still debating between thermal running tights and triathlon shorts.  In dry 35-degree weather, the shorts would be fine.  I doubt though that the tights would do anything aside from keep me warmer for the first few miles.  I'm leaning towards the shorts.
  • Running JacketMy running jacket is only water resistant.  I'm heading to Fleet Feet tomorrow since they told me they have waterproof jackets still in stock.
  • GlovesAnd then comes the gloves debate.   See below!

I own and love a pair of Brooks Utopia 2-in-1 mittens.  In November I went on a semi-long run in an inadequate pair of gloves.  To this day, I do not have full feeling back in my left thumb!  Hence the purchase of the Brooks.  But they were meant for running in the cold, not swimming, despite being labeled as "waterproof."

Today I decided to test just how waterproof the Brooks Utopia 2-in-1 mittens really are.




I separated the 2-in-1 mittens because there's no way you can expect a fleece mitten to be waterproof.  I put the outer shell on and turned the water on.  Long story short, the thumb is completely soakable, but other than that and the stitching lines, the outer shell fabric is waterproof.  In a complete downpour, I would expect a couple miles to be ok, but the mitten will not hold up long to full rain. 

My only saving grace at this point would be
a light rain

Long story long...

video

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Questions
1.  Do you know how to rain dance?
For the love of running gods, STOP rain dancing!!

2.  Do you have running attire for all weather?
I can deal with cold, heat, warm weather rain, snow, ice, and hurricanes.  Rain at barely above freezing temperatures was not on my list.

3.  Are your gloves waterproof?


Dream.  Believe.  Achieve.  

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

HELP!! What would you do?

Let's play out a hypothetical situation...

Here are the facts...
  • You're running a marathon this coming Sunday
  • The marathon is going to be cold; roughly 30-40 degrees.  You've known that for awhile.
  • You've practiced clothing options and have come up with your outfit
  • You've done all that, and then this hits...


What would you wear?

I've kept an eye on the weather for awhile and I had hoped that the rain would simply be pushed back to Sunday night and Monday, but so far no luck.  I have to face the fact that it's going to be not only a cold but a rainy and windy marathon.  Ugh!!  I had not prepared for this.

WHAT DO I DO?!

I'm honestly considering wrapping myself in garbage bags.  I do not currently have a waterproof running jacket.  I've run many times with my feet soaked, so I'm ok with that, but the entire body being wet for hopefully only 3.5 hours was not in the plan.

I'm taking all suggestions!!

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Questions
1.  Have you run races in adverse weather?
I've been very lucky so far.  Aside from one Olympic Tri in 2010, I've had good weather for every race I've raced.

2.  What would you wear for a marathon in rainy, windy, 35 degree weather?
Are there good running rain jackets?  Should I simply grab the garbage bags?


Dream.  Believe.  Achieve. 

Monday, February 18, 2013

BOOTCAMP: The Countdown

It's Monday!  
Surprise!!

Time for some motivation to A) make up for what happened this past weekend or b) get the week kicked off right.  I'm sorry, there's no option C.  Whatever else happened has now been forgotten.

Here's a workout for you to add to the weekly "to do" list. 

video

If you like this workout, you'll want to check out the 12 Days of Christmas workout as well.   

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Questions
1.  Do you do any type of gym workouts, be it strength training, conditioning, or otherwise?
I strength train twice a week and try to fit in single more bootcamp-esque workout (highly aerobic strength training) when possible. 

2.  What did you do this weekend?  
I did my final long-ER run before marathon taper on Saturday, helped a friend move on Sunday, and gave Falafel a try last night. 


Dream.  Believe.  Achieve. 

Friday, February 15, 2013

Food Adventure: Tofu

As mentioned HERE, this month's Monthly Challenge is to attempt four new non-animal based protein options. 

February Food Adventure #1: Tofu

My sister is a Pescaterian.  Ok, she is when she wants to be.  But either way, I looked to her first when I decided to take on this challenge.  She immediately steered me to Tofu.

From what I had heard, tofu's texture is a big reason a lot of people don't like it.  My sister insisted that I get the firmest tofu available.  I didn't even know it came in levels of... firmness.  Weird.

I picked up a pack of Nature's Promise Extra Firm organic tofu and went to town!


I opened the container, drained out the water and was surprised to see that tofu is just a square block of...  well, mush!  I was expecting neatly cut cubes to toss in a stove top or oven pan.  Nope.  Take one point away for overall presentation.  Thankfully, I had to open it to figure this fact out.  I couldn't turn back now.


My sister informed me that the key to making tofu is the sauce you use.  "Tofu will soak up whatever flavor you surround it with.  Otherwise, it's a completely blah taste."  Good to know.  I also looked at some recipes online.  They all preceded the flavoring with pressing out any "juices" that the tofu had soaked up from the packaging.  That made sense.

In order to soak up a sauce, you had to empty the 'sponge.'  So I placed it between plates and let Mott's have at it.  Most recipes said to do this for 30 minutes to multiple hours or over night.  I let it sit for maybe 15 minutes while I started my fried rice.  That's right, fried rice!


Once the fried rice was all mixed up and getting close to ready, I cut up the tofu and tossed it in a pan on a low heat.  Then I poured soy sauce in the pan and kept turning the tofu over hoping it would soak up the sauce. 


The tofu cooked for maybe 10-15 minutes on a low heat and the sauce was soaked up as well as cooked off.  At the end, the sides of the tofu began to get a little charred, which later on I discovered helped the texture and flavor. 


I didn't get a picture of the final product.  It might be because it was too tasty.  My attention was too drawn to eating.  Haha.  But trust me when I say it was good.

Tofu = Success!

I repeated the meal again a couple nights later and ran out of soy sauce.  However, even with maybe 25% of the flavor, the tofu turned out ok.  I am not deterred by the texture at all.  I'm going to attempt soaking it in chicken stock today to add to my Ceaser Salad.  We'll see how that goes.

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Questions
1.  Do you eat plant-based protein?  Have you tried tofu?  What are your thoughts?
I can understand people disliking the texture, but the ability to flavor it any way you like is great!  I will certainly be making use of Tofu in the future.

2.  What's the last food experiment you did?  Do you try new foods or stick to the standbys?
I generally stick to my standbys, which is why I added this challenge.  I need new options for food and a push to get out of that comfort zone. 

3.  What other non-animal based protein options are there?
I've picked up Tempeh already and am looking four Quinoa this week.  Any others?


Dream.  Believe.  Achieve. 

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Pearl Izumi Project Emotion - Dynamic Offset

The new Pearl Izumi Project Emotion line of shoes have made use of a new fancy label...

Dynamic Offset

In looking at the new lineup, it seems that there is no stated heel or toe stack height, only a range of drops based on this idea of the dynamic offset.  I asked Pearl Izumi if they have a measured stack height for the new line of shoes, but haven't heard back as of yet.

In the mean time, one reviewer, Sam, has posted stack heights for the new shoes HERE which he states are from Pearl Izumi.  I can't say they're verified numbers, but according to him, here are the stack heights.  THANK YOU SAM!!!
  • EM N1 Road/Tri - 19mm heel, 18mm toe = 1mm drop with 4.5mm dynamic offset
  • EM N2 Road/Tri - 23mm heel, 19mm toe = 4mm drop with 7.5mm dynamic offset
  • EM M3/H3 Road - 25mm heel, 21mm toe = 4mm drop with 7.5mm dynamic offset
  • EM N1 Trail - 19.7 heel, 18.7mm toe = 1mm drop with 4.5mm dynamic offset
  • EM N2/M3 Trail - 24.5mm heel, 20.5mm toe = 4mm drop with 7.5mm dynamic offset

What is "Dynamic Offset"?
I wasn't too sure myself even after reading Pearl's explanation of it.  After some thinking, I believe it is a concept that applies to ALL shoes unless of course you wear something that does not have cushion - like wooden clogs.  Dynamic Offset, as illustrated HERE by Pearl Izumi, is the changing (hence "dynamic") heel and toe stack height of a shoe.  As your foot strikes the ground whether it be the heel, midfoot, or toe first, the cushion of the shoe compresses, causing the initial stack height to decrease as the material absorbs the impact.  As you progress through the motion of your foot strike to the eventual toe off, the difference in height off the ground of your toe versus your heel changes as demonstrated by the image taken from the above mentioned video.


Isn't that the same for other shoes?
In my opinion, yes.  On the grand scale (aka, ignoring any technical details that Pearl might throw at me), the height off the ground of the ball of your foot compared to that of your heel changes throughout the progression of your foot strike no matter what shoes you wear.  Again, ignoring wooden clogs.  It's a natural characteristic of the materials we use for the soles of our shoes.  They simply compress to absorb impact; some more than others. 

So how do the new Pearl Izumi shoes differ from any other shoe?
To be honest, I'm not sure.  We can obviously assume that these shoes will differ in all of the typical ways - the fit, the material, the feel, etc.  However, as far as the dynamic offset, I do not see how the new shoes differ from the general idea of any other shoe design.  I am certainly not privy to any insider information, but I see the new label "Dynamic Offset" as a marketing ploy as opposed to a purely design characteristic. 

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Update on the Release Date:

Outside PR, a marketing group that Pearl Izumi uses, told me via Facebook that I should look for the new shoes on Feb. 15th.

My local Fleet Feet store expects to have delivery of the shoes by next week.  My number is on their list to call when the shoes come in!

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Questions
1.  When shopping for anything, do you critique the labels and/or product descriptions?
I find a lot of product descriptions, commercials, and labels to be misleading.  They all say "the best" or use fancy terms that really mean nothing at all, but make you think "Ooooh, that's fancy!"

2.  Have you ever worn wooden clogs?  
I'm Scandinavian and those things are not comfortable!

3.  Do you know what the offset or stack heights of your shoes are?
I'm curious how our favorite brands and models compare.

Dream.  Believe.  Achieve. 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

New Thoughts on Winter Running Shoes

As you may have read, I ran 18.5 miles on Saturday while most of CT was working on uncovering themselves from Nemo.  What an AWESOME run!  Though, I do wish I can snow shoes.  I could have made it much more of an adventure with snow shoes!!

This morning, I planned on running another 8 miles, but cut it short at 5.8 due to bad traffic on already bad roads.  It seems a lot of people are eager to get back to work.

And between those two runs, I've come to a realization...

Drain holes lose their functionality in the winter months.

See those holes in the bottom of the shoes?

I know I've praised Pearl Izumi for the drain holes in their Streak II shoes and recently pointed out that the new Project Emotion Road shoes no longer have said drain holes.  But I'm willing to amend my thoughts on the subject to this...

I appreciate and desire drain holes in my running shoes during the late-spring to mid-fall time frame, however, I have come to realize that these holes become annoying during winter runs.

There!  I said it.  I'm willing now to look at a new pair of shoes for winter running.  My feet have avoided becoming cold during my winter runs, but I don't like having them get soaked due to the slush on the roads. 

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Questions
1.  Do you wear different shoes in the winter vs summer?
I've always worn the same shoes in both seasons.  Now, however, I appreciate the difference in the elements.

2.  How often do you switch running shoes?
I just recently realized that I've only had two pairs since November 2011 and have run easily over 1000 miles in them all together.  With only a 9mm toe stack, I'm impressed with their longevity!

3.  Does snow, rain, or slush keep you from running?
It may make me pause before I head out the door, but I'm out in it either way.


Dream.  Believe.  Achieve. 

Monday, February 11, 2013

You Know You've Had Enough of Nemo When...

1.  You get stopped by a cop while running UP the exit ramp of the highway.

I was 80% up the off ramp when I saw a cop car drive by (circled in red below).  He reversed and came down to ask what I was doing.


Uhhh...  I'm just here to take this picture sir.  Then I'm headed back.  I swear!


2.  You make sandwiches out of unbaked brownie mix and saltine crackers. 



3.  You pull out the vintage gaming systems.




video


4.  You attempt to fix said vintage gaming systems.



5.  You learn how to work the Beauty function on your camera.


No need to spend hours putting makeup on anymore.  You can add it digitally!

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Questions
1.  What did you do this weekend?
Work closed early on Friday, I did a 22 mile trainer ride, ran 18.5 miles Saturday after 2 hours of shoveling, watched movies, went to bed early, shoveled for another 2.5 hours, and spent the evening playing vintage video games. 

2.  What do you do when you're snowed in or on lock down?
Movies are the easiest go to option for me. 

3.  Did you have a favorite gaming system?
I only ever had the N64 and loved it.  I still think the XBox is awesome, but has way too many buttons.


Dream.  Believe.  Achieve.  


Saturday, February 9, 2013

I Found Nemo!

We've all seen the movie.  It was quite the adventure to find Nemo.  Am I right?

And as we all know, Nemo seems to have gotten lost again.  Don't worry your kids though; I found him.  This time, instead of being lost in the Caribbean or whatever tropical area Nemo and Marlin have moved to, Nemo ventured North and found himself in New England. 

Have you seen my dad?!
The snow started around 8:30am Friday and work eventually closed at 1:00pm due to the CT governor closing the highways and the bulk of the storm getting closer and closer.  Here are the pictures of my car at 9am and 1:30pm.


Not that much, is it?  At this point, I laughed and expected to have a quiet day at home while everyone went crazy over this supposed "Blizzard."  Man was I wrong!!

View out the balcony.
I woke up to nearly 3 feet of snow!  Who would have guessed that the weatherman would have predicted it right.  As a friend likes to say...

Even a squirrel finds a nut every so often.

So here are the facts...
  • CT is on lock down by the governor
  • That means, no driving
  • No place is open even if I did decide to drive
  • There is three feet of snow outdoors and lots of plow trucks
What to do.  What to do.  What to do...

Go Running!
Of course!

I spent an hour shoveling out the walk way of my apartment and then headed out!  This is what I saw over the next 18.5 miles.

Lots of empty roads
A rather snowy highway

A plow truck broken down in Burger King

Two cars abandoned in the middle of the road.

Hotel packed with trucks from electrical companies

An empty mall

Empty shopping center

Another empty shopping center

Another abandoned car

Serious snow plowing
Kids making an igloo out of the snow pile!!

Lots of non-plowed side streets
You wouldn't believe the number of looks I got out on the road.  Everyone was shoveling, plowing, or simply looking in awe at their buried cars and houses.  One person even tried to convince me that it'd be a better workout to pick up a shovel and help him dig his driveway out.  I doubt he's ever run 18.5 miles.  haha

But I was not the only one out there.  Around mile 13, I passed two other runners.  And then around mile 14, I passed another two.  The second two were friends of mine who were out for their own 18 mile run. 

I knew I wasn't crazy!!  
...or at least I'm not the only one.

So Nemo may have cut me one hour out of this week's pay, closed down the state for a day, and ruined a lot of people's plans, but he sure gave me quite the adventure run!

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Questions
1.  Did you find Nemo?

2.  When businesses close and the state shuts down, what do you do?  Do you stay inside or does that scenario scream adventure to you?
I've run in hurricanes and blizzards.  It will always seem like and adventure waiting to happen.

3.  What are you up to this weekend?


Dream.  Believe.  Achieve. 

Monday, February 4, 2013

Monthly Challenge

As you may have seen on the Look Back at January, I had something in there called the "Monthly Challenge."  After having posted my 2013 Resolutions, my thoughts continued coming.  There were a few things that I knew I didn't like about my daily habits, my schedule, my person, etc.  So I decided to give one of them a try

I work three nights a week and two mornings.  When I work nights, I would usually come home afterwards, check my email, facebook, eat a snack, and then brush my teeth, wash up, and finally read a chapter or two before going to bed.  Work gets out at 10pm and I'd be going to sleep around 1!:30pm or midnight.  Ugh!!  I'd end up not getting up until 8 or later some days and it just shot my day.  I decided that there was really no reason to be on the computer after work. 

I decided to make it a challenge.

The computer is off limits after 10pm!


For the month of January, I did pretty good.  I only broke the rule twice.  Once by accident; I hadn't realized what time it was and I noticed at 10:05pm.  I shut everything down and it was off by 10:07pm.  The other time was intentional.  I had to check flight times and print vouchers for my trip to Disney.  But I stuck to the rule 29 out of 31 days and feel much better for it. 

Monthly Challenge Success!!  And I will be sticking to it from now on.

For February, I have another aspect of life, food.  I recently watched Vegucated and am again interested in the vegetarian/vegan diet.  Don't worry, I'm not going vegan any time soon.  But I want to try non-animal based protein options (beans, tofu, soy, etc.).  My goal is simply to attempt 4 new protein options that would, in thought, be a replacement for meat. 

Tofu will be my first attempt.  What other options are there?

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Questions
1.  Have you ever gone vegetarian or vegan?  If not, do you have a specific diet?  If so, what made you decide to switch?
I did vegetarian in college for a semester.  That was the start to my diet experiments. 

2.  What non-animal based protein options are there?
I can only think of tofu, soy (which is what tofu is made from), beans, nuts...  That's it.  There has to be more out there.

3.  Do you spend a lot of time on the computer?
Yes!  Way too much time checking in on things that do not need checking.

4.  Have you ever given yourself a monthly challenge?
The only challenge I've done before this year was the vegetarian and paleo diets.

5.  How was your weekend?



Dream.  Believe.  Achieve.  

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Pearl Izumi Project EMotion - Store Info & Stack Heights


After last weekend's Bikram Yoga class, I swung by the local Fleet Feet store to see what they might know about the new Pearl Izumi Project E:Motion line.  Remember my panic post


They knew it all!

Ok, not everything, but more than I did.  Here's what I found out.

  • The shoes will be released this month, but there is no set date.  
  • The previous line's stock is simply at a "what's left" status; production has ceased.
  • Due to the dynamic offset in the midsole, the company has not stated how thick the toe and heel stack are because they claim it changes depending on the position of your foot.  
    • This didn't make sense to me and the guys at the shop agreed.  They thought it was a fancy way for the company to come across as "cool" and "technological."
  • In order to compare the drop to other shoes, these guys told me to look at the stated drop at the mid-stride position. 
  • The N1 will most closely resemble the Streak II in stack height and feel.
  • The N1 has a 4.5mm drop which is much smaller than the 9-10mm drop of the Streak IIs.  I like that.

Then this morning, I went to the same Fleet Feet for a speed workout and while doing our warmup, I noticed one of the guys running in the N2 Road shoes.  Obviously, I caught up to him and struck up a conversation.  He liked them, but had no comparison to the Streak IIs.  Luckily, the speed workout is run by the store's shoe guru, so we asked him for his opinion.  Here's what he had to say...

  • Expected release this coming week
    • RunningWarehouse and reviewers have mentioned that the release was pushed to March/April.
    • RunningShoes.com has the shoes on pre-order with an expected shipping date of March 1st.
  • No drain holes in the EM Road
    • EM Tri should have drain holes. 
  • Increased stack height for the entire line.  This will make them stiffer. 
  • The N1 will be the closest resemblance to the Streak IIs. 
  • The N2 will have thicker soles than the N1 and be a much stiffer shoe. 
  • All of the shoes are based on the same sole and body style, so even though they will only be carrying select shoes in the line, if you fit one, you will fit the others.  The only difference will be the sole thickness and small changes in the uppers construction (but using the same materials). 

I have also found a reviewer who happened to be able to find the stack heights of the N1/2 Road and Trail shoes.  You can find his post HERE.   I can't say they're verified numbers, but according to him, here are the stack heights. 

  • EM N1 Road/Tri - 19mm heel, 18mm toe = 1mm drop with 4.5mm dynamic offset
  • EM N2 Road/Tri - 23mm heel, 19mm toe = 4mm drop with 7.5mm dynamic offset
  • EM M3/H3 Road - 25mm heel, 21mm toe = 4mm drop with 7.5mm dynamic offset
  • EM N1 Trail - 19.7 heel, 18.7mm toe = 1mm drop with 4.5mm dynamic offset
  • EM N2/M3 Trail - 24.5mm heel, 20.5mm toe = 4mm drop with 7.5mm dynamic offset

I attempted to contact the Pearl Izumi customer service department for more detailed information, but haven't heard anything back.  I was also contacted by a Dealer Service Representative after writing the previous post thanking me for writing about my experience with their shoes.  I responded asking if they had certain information, but I have not heard back as of yet.

I will let you know if I find out any more information.



At this point, here are my questions, thoughts, and opinion for Pearl Izumi
  •  When is the release date?
    • If it's February, I should have enough time to test them out and still possibly snag a pair of Streak IIs if needed.  
    • If it's going to be later, I need to snag a pair of Streak IIs ASAP.
  • Are the stack heights above correct?
    • At this point, I know they're thicker, but how much?

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Questions
1.  How many different models of shoes have you been through over the years?
The Pearls are my 5th model.  The triathlon versions are my 6th if we count that as a difference.

2.  What are you up to this weekend?  Anything fun?
I had my first speed workout this morning and loved it!  Great way to stay motivated and up my intensity at the same time. 

3.  Have you been to the grocery store today?
They are PACKED!!  Good thing I didn't need any chips, soda, wings, or pizza!  It was fighting room only.  Thankfully the produce section was not on everyone's Superbowl priority list.


Dream.  Believe.  Achieve. 

Friday, February 1, 2013

A LOOK BACK: January 2013

Total Swum:  0 yards!
Total Biked: 135.3 miles
Total Run:  113.6 miles
Total Strength: 5
Total Yoga: 1

Greatest weekly swim mileage:  nada!
Greatest weekly bike mileage:  45.8 miles
Greatest weekly run mileage:  54.5 miles.  Yes, I ran nearly have of the month's miles in one week.  So what?!
Greatest weekly no. of strength training sessions: 2
Greatest weekly no. of yoga sessions:  1.  Bikram kicked my butt!

Average bed time:  11:01 pm (I need to make that earlier!)
Average time to get up:  6:38 am
Average amount of sleep:  7:41
Average RHR:  52.5 bpm

Monthly Goal - Computer is off limits after 10pm
I was only on the computer twice after 10pm.  Once the night before heading to Disney to check information and once because I lost track of time; it was off by 10:07pm.  I will consider this a success.  I enjoy being less attached to my computer.

2013 Racing Resolutions
  1. Race 12 races throughout the year - 3 races completed!
  2. Break my 5k PR (currently 19:30 from 2010) - Registered for the Sandy Hook 5k on 3/23
  3. Run my 3rd Half Marathon - Free entry into the Hogsback Half in Sept
  4. Run my 2nd Marathon (for time) - Registered for Hyannis Marathon on 2/24
  5. Run back-to-back marathons - Hartford & Newport in October
  6. Race an ultramarathon
    1. Run a 50k - Lake Waramaug Ultra
    2. Run a 50 miler - JFK 50 in November?
  7. Break my Lake T Sprint PR (58:06) - Starts in June
  8. Race an Olympic Tri
  9. Race Two Half Irons
  10. Race an Ironman - IM Lake Placid in July
  11. Race a new event (i.e. Spartan Race)
2013 Training Resolutions
  1. Ride a double century (200 miles) - No way I'm doing this indoors!
  2. Once started, maintain at least one swim, one bike, and one run each week - FAIL!  Went one week with 0 run miles due to a cold.
  3. Maintain strength training sessions throughout the year - Success!
  4. Make use of group training sessions - One group run so far
  5. Do not ignore recovery
  6. Maintain data log
2013 Personal Resolutions
  1. Do 12 things that scare me throughout the year - Still working on #1
    • I am taking any suggestions!!
  2. Obtain a 2nd coaching position - Have a meeting this month.
  3. Make time to visit my sister in PA 
  4. Compile and keep a list of recipes / meal ideas - Nothing compiled yet.
  5. Continue eating healthy - Success!
  6. Continue cooking from home - Sucess!
  7. Continue personal reading - Currently reading A Game of Thrones
  8. Put 10% of my income into savings! - 39% of January's earnings went in the bank!  Trust me, that'll get smaller as I start forking over registration and lodging costs.
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Questions
1.  How was your January?


Dream.  Believe.  Achieve.